Handling an infant can be a daunting task for any new parent. While frequent night wakings for feedings or diaper changes are expected, nothing can be more frustrating than the baby not sleeping when he/she should be. This article will provide some quick hints on how to get your infant to sleep.
1. Nail the Basics
Before you try anything else below, you have to make sure all of the infant’s basic needs are taken care of. Here’s the short checklist: Tummy Full of Milk, Burped, Clean Diaper, Comfortable Clothes, Proper Room Temperature. Comfortable Sleeping Environment. Note that it’s possible that newborns are not getting enough milk at first due to mommy still trying to get the hang of breastfeeding and the baby still getting the hang of latching. The baby not sleep might be as simple hunger.
2. Swaddle, Swaddle, Swaddle
One of the absolute best skills a new parent of a newborn can learn is how to properly swaddle their infant. Most babies, especially newborns, love the feeling of SNUG that only their mother’s womb and a good swaddle can provide. The best swaddles will be like a tiny straitjacket where there is some wiggle room, but tight enough where your little one won’t be able to stick an arm out. There are many ways to swaddle, figure out which one works the best for you. I have a few different swaddles in my arsenal to use for different situations. Youtube will be your best friend if you want to learn different types of swaddles and pick up step by step instructions. A good swaddle will be your best friend from 0 – 3 months. After 3 months, most infants will be strong enough to break out. Besides, you probably do not want to keep your infants swaddled their entire life.
3. Gas – Your Worse Enemy
Babies have gas. Lots of gas. Some babies have more, some babies have less, but everyone has gas. Gas is uncomfortable and makes your baby unhappy. When your baby is unhappy, he cries and does not sleep. Here are a couple of quick ways to get rid of gas.
A) Pump the babies legs. Bicycle Kick Motion, Rockettes Motion, Crane Style, whatever you can to try to get the gas out. Personally, I like to gently and slowly bring the babies knees up to their chest, hold the knees there for 3 – 5 seconds, slowly move the knees from left to right across the chest, and then releasing the legs.
B) Burp the baby again. The baby might not have been burped well the first time around. So try again. If you have stairs, it helps to hold the baby in an upright position and then walk up and down the stairs slowly. Not only might you have the baby release some gas, you get some much needed exercise in as well. Being a parent is all about hitting two birds with one stone.
4. White Noise
Some babies like droning background noises. Maybe it’s the dryer running, maybe it’s the sound of a crowded Chinese restaurant, maybe it’s this scary, scary, soundtrack. Actually, that sound tracks work wonders for many newborns, young infants as it mimics womb sounds. Maybe some babies like smooth jazz, but probably not. Stick with white noise and womb sounds.
5. Walk & Rock
One of my favorite moves, because it’s simple and effective. Step 1: Hold baby close to your body in a cradle hold. Step 2: Walk forward slowly and evenly in a straight line, while rocking the baby in an “8” motion, or whatever motion the baby might like. Step 3: Make a U-Turn when you get to the wall or hit a dead end. Step 4: Walk slowly and evenly back to your starting point while rocking the baby. You can combo this move with. . .
6. Your Beautiful Voice
Babies enjoy their parent’s voices, especially if you talked or sang to them often while they were still in the womb. They know and like your voice, even if it’s off key. That means it is time to pick one or two songs that you like to sing. Usually anything soft and soothing would do the trick, so nothing like “Welcome to the Jungle” or “Highway to Hell”. After you decide on the songs, sing those songs to them when they are sleepy or when you are trying to lull them to sleep. This way you have Pavlov’s classical conditioning working in your favor as well. You can sing while you walk & rock. Combine these two moves with this third one . . .
7. Rhythmic Drumming
Maybe you’ve always wanted to be a drummer; well, now it’s your chance. Gently pat the baby’s thigh, arm, chest, or butt area rhythmically while singing, walking, and rocking. The butt area works especially well as it provides that rhythmic beat sensation while providing some possible gas relief in that area. The chest area is also nice as it appears to provide them with some sense of security. Drumming works really well if you are a good drummer. If you are off beat all the time, you might just startle the baby instead of soothing him. Do not feel obligated to combine “Walk & Rock”, Singing, and Drumming; you can use just one or two techniques at a time. What works is different for every baby, so be patient and observant.
Pacifiers are not really recommended, and I don’t love using them. However, they are call pacifiers for a reason. Sometimes, a baby just needs a good suck to sleep. For many dads, a pacifier might be the only item they can offer to little ones needing oral comfort.
If all else fails, go for a ride in the car. There’s something about a moving car that magically puts a baby to sleep. Drive carefully because it’s late and you’re exhausted. Driving around the neighborhood in silence with a sleeping baby is infinitely better for your sanity than pacing back and forth your hallway holding a crying baby. As an added bonus, you might as well drive to the nearest McDonald’s or whatever drive-thru that’s still open to grab a burger, some fries, and a drink. If it’s going to be a long night, you might as well make the most of it.